It Happened One Wedding Page 78

Oh. Of course—it was just Huxley’s fiancée, Addison.

He paid the price for the momentary distraction. He looked ahead and saw Cade cross the finish line a few feet in front of him. They both trotted to a stop amid the cheers of the energized crowd.

Breathing hard, Vaughn walked over and stuck out his hand to Cade for a job well done. “Show off,” he said with a grin.

They moved off to the sidelines and grabbed some water, just as Brooke made her way through the crowd. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and with her blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, she walked over to Cade and threw her arms around his neck in congratulations. He scooped her up as she kissed him.

“How’s the shoulder holding up?” she asked.

“Shoulder? Oh, shit.” Cade feigned dropping her, then caught her with a grin.

“Still, with that?”

He winked at her. “That move once helped me get very lucky.” He pulled her closer, kissing her again.

Vaughn stepped away to give them some space. He looked over at the finish line just as Huxley ran through. He made his way over and congratulated his partner, then once again had to give space to a happily-in-love couple after Addison showed up and planted a kiss on Huxley that undoubtedly would’ve fogged his glasses had he been wearing them.

Feeling a bit like a fifth wheel, Vaughn took another swig of water while catching his breath. He stood in the grass along the sidelines, alone, as thousands of people hugged, kissed, and high-fived their loves ones all around him.

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“I’d give you a hug in congratulations, but, man, you are sweaty and kind of funky-looking right now.”

Vaughn grinned at the sound of the voice. Turning around, he was touched to see Simon. “Aren’t you supposed to be in wedding-planning lockdown right now?” Although he’d told his brother that he was training for the Chicago Triathlon, he hadn’t asked him to come watch the race. Frankly, he’d assumed that Simon would be too busy since the wedding was only six days away.

“Well, apparently, one can apply for a brief furlough from wedding-planning lockdown when one’s brother is racing in a triathlon,” Simon said. “How are you feeling?”

“A little pissed that I owe Morgan lunch, but otherwise pretty good.”

“Mind if I join you guys?” Simon asked.

“That’d be great,” Vaughn said. “Brooke and Addison are coming, too—the more the merrier.”

Simon followed him back to his place, where Vaughn quickly showered and changed. When they arrived at O’Malley’s, Brooke and Cade were already seated at a table for six.

“Let’s see . . . what’s the most expensive item here?” Cade mused, perusing the menu. “I need to make the most of my free lunch.”

Vaughn ignored the jab. He introduced Brooke to Simon, and then gestured to the ring on her finger. “I hear you’re finally going to make an honest man out of Morgan.”

She looked at Cade, feigning surprise. “Oh, is that what I agreed to? I just saw a diamond and shouted ‘Yes!’ to having a new piece of jewelry.” She turned back to Vaughn. “Oops.”

“That’s cute,” Cade told her.

“So what’s your version of the story, Morgan? You never said how you popped the question,” Vaughn said.

“Nothing too crazy. I just made Brooke breakfast that morning.” Cade looked at his fiancée, and they shared an inside smile. “A Denver omelette.”

“He had everything all set out when I walked into the kitchen—the omelette, coffee, and orange juice,” Brooke explained. “And when I flipped over my coffee cup, there was the ring box, sitting on the saucer.”

From the private way the couple was looking at each other, Vaughn gathered there was more to this Denver omelette story. But neither of them said anything further.

Huxley and Addison arrived shortly thereafter. Simon asked Vaughn, Cade, and Huxley which part of the race had been the toughest, and that spawned a long, testosterone-fueled conversation about how they all could’ve kept going for several more miles, that maybe they needed a bigger challenge, like an Iron Man triathlon, or maybe they needed to try something even more adventurous. Like climbing Mount Rainier.

“Now you want to climb a mountain?” Brooke asked. “Why, exactly?”

“Because we can,” Cade said, matter-of-factly.

“Oh my God, you are such men,” Addison said.

Simon pointed. “Hold on—if you three are doing this, I want in, too.”

Huxley already had his phone out, Googling what time of year was the best to climb. The discussion went on from there, with everyone joking and kidding around long after they’d finished their food.

As the rest of the group was leaving the pub, Simon pulled Vaughn aside. “Let’s stay for a beer.”

Vaughn was instantly suspicious—presumably, his brother was supposed to be making a seating chart right then, or practicing his first dance, or doing something else wedding-related. “Why?”

“Do I need a reason to grab a beer with my brother?” Simon asked, looking offended. “I’m getting married in six days. I’m going to have a baby soon. Who knows how many chances we’ll get to hang out after this, just the two of us?”

Hmm. Vaughn remained suspicious, but nevertheless followed his brother to the bar.

They grabbed two seats, and Simon waited all of about five seconds after the bartender slid a couple of bottles of beer in front of them before getting down to it.

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